PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS
Match of the Round
Hamilton Olympic v Valentine Phoenix
2.30pm Sunday 30th July at Darling Street Oval
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2017: Valentine 1 Hamilton 1 at Cahill Oval.
Ladder: Hamilton 3rd (34pts), Valentine 4th (32)
Last 3 Starts (most recent first):
Hamilton – Won Bears 3-0 (a), Won Eagles 1-0 (h), Won Blues 2-1 (a)
Valentine – Drew Magpies 2-2 (h), Won Jets 3-2 (h), Lost Rosebud 2-4 (a)
This weekend’s ‘Match of the Round’ is the highlight of a critical week of football in the PS4 NPL NNSW, as finals hopes go on the line in the biggest weekend of action so far, this season.
Hamilton are humming along beautifully and are undefeated in six matches. Olympic have won five of those six, including four straight and have gone from being on the fringe of the top four to well and truly inside it now.
Last weekend, Hamilton did what they have been unable to do for the last two seasons – back up a win against Edgeworth with three points the following week. On Sunday, against Weston they did exactly that, winning 3-0 and moving into third position, jumping above Valentine in the process.
Olympics’ recent form means a slip-up on Sunday won’t be fatal to their finals hopes, but it may just put a spanner in the works. With the top four cut-off expected to be around 36 points, Olympic really only need one win from their last three matches to be safe.
However, for their opponents Valentine losing is no option – with a clash in round 21 with Edgeworth following their meeting with Olympic on Sunday.
The Phoenix did brilliantly well to snatch a point from their last start against Maitland where they went down to ten men after Josh Carroll was sent off just after half-time.
Valentine then conceded and were down 2-1, but Jalon Brown stepped up as he has done so often this season and scored a wonderful goal to ensure a share of the points.
Valentine sit on 32 points, just two points ahead of fifth placed Broadmeadow Magic, who play Maitland at the same time, and really need at least four points from their three matches.
A point will be a pass mark for Valentine on Sunday and keep their finals hopes alive, but defeat and the Phoenix will face an uphill struggle.
What the Coaches Said:
Mick Bolch (Hamilton)
“They [Valentine] have had a really good year. They have got class up the front in Jalon Brown, obviously, we’ve got to shut service down to him. They just work hard all over the park for each other and are a really good team unit. They won’t get as much space, obviously on our small ground as what they had out on their ground. I think they’ve done really well on their ground this year. They have probably only lost once on their ground all year.”
“The shape we are playing at the moment, we have done really well defensively the last couple of weeks. Two clean sheets in a row. I think we’d only kept one clean sheet the whole time since we lost Danny Ireland. Defensively we are starting to work really well as a unit. We are going to create plenty of chances, but as long as we keep our defensive structure in place I think we’ll do well on Sunday.”
Darren Sills (Valentine)
“At the end of the day, we play two teams that are above us [Hamilton and Edgeworth]. If we want to be in semi-final contention and we want to be playing semi-final football we have to beat them because even if results go our way and we don’t win games, that’s not the sort of form you want to have going into the semi-finals.”
“They [Hamilton] are in good form. Two clean sheets in two weeks. A great result against Edgeworth and they backed it up with a solid win against Weston and they are back on their home turf and they are statistically very, very difficult to beat there.”
Key: Hamilton haven’t conceded in their last two-and-a-half matches. Can Valentine find the key to unlock Olympics’ watertight defence?
Edgeworth Eagles v Weston Bears
2.30pm Saturday 29th July at Jack McLaughlan Oval
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2017: Weston 1 Edgeworth 2 at Rockwell Automation Park.
Ladder: Edgeworth 2nd (36), Weston 11th (7)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Edgeworth – Won Blues 3-1 (a), Lost Olympic 0-1 (a), Won Jets 4-1 (h)
Weston – Lost Jets 0-1 (a), Lost Magpies 2-3 (h), Lost Rosebud 0-2 (h)
With the minor premiership race heating up, this match is a crucial one for the Eagles, with a game in hand on the Jaffas, who they are level on points with currently.
With the Westfield FFA Cup heartbreak during the week, this match can bring out two reactions from the Eagles. One of greater drive and determination after the gutting defeat, or a flat performance after the emotion of the Cup.
The Eagles conceded a final minute goal to South Melbourne on Wednesday to lose 1-0, after impressing for much of the match.
In the PS4 NPL NNSW the Eagles bounced back last weekend from their defeat to Hamilton, with a 3-1 victory over Charlestown under lights at Lisle Carr Oval.
The return to form of striker Keigo Moriyasu – who scored just his second goal since round three – was pleasing for coach Damian Zane and he could be just the spark Edgeworth need in this run into the finals.
Weston make their first trip away from Rockwell Automation Park in more than a month after four straight home matches which yielded little for them in the way of competition points.
The Bears come into the match on an eight-game losing streak – not an ideal run when you face the two-time major and minor premiers.
But, the Bears have shown plenty of fight and desire over the last three matches, with tight defeats to Maitland and the Jets Youth followed by a 3-0 defeat last weekend to a Hamilton side who have really hit their stride.
With so much to play for Edgeworth will be hot favourites to make it five wins in a row against the Bears. Stats don’t lie and Edgeworth are very hard to beat at home – losing just twice in the last two seasons there.
What the Coaches Said:
Steve Piggott (Weston)
“There were a lot of players who got pushed off the ball [against Hamilton]. I’d say about 70% of our team got muscled off the ball at least once or twice. Ignacia Giampaoli, he got substituted at half-time. He had to come off with a busted shoulder. Millsteed who took his place got smashed off the ball about eight times, maybe more. They are just too strong, physically too good for us.”
“I said [after the match] go and watch BarTV, tell me how many times you got pushed off the ball. Then tell me if you have got a solution to it. Go to the gym with Michael Holt and see if you can work on some things. Short term, what do we do? Apart from me telling them plant your feet when you come to the ball, stop get your arms out and put all your weight on your heels and stop getting pushed off the ball. I can’t do that for the individuals, I can only tell them and show them how to keep the ball. If you haven’t got any physical strength and get outmuscled, how am I meant to help them?”
Damian Zane (Edgeworth)
“It’s just been made a bit tougher with Dom [Bizzarri] pulling out of the Cup game, so it means Adam [Cawley] comes into the starting line-up, so he would have been fresh on Saturday. Keigo [Moriyasu] and Will Bower will come off the bench [in the cup]. Depending how Josh [Evans] pulls up Aaron Oppedisano may play on Saturday.”
“A lot depends on the spirit we are in. If we get a win in the cup and are in good spirits, I think we’ll knuckle down and get the job done. Everyone is just sort of talking as if we’ve just got to rock up on Saturday and we get the points. We’ll be fatigued, there is no doubt about it, so we’ll just have to switch on and have a really good mental attitude towards the game.”
Key: Can the Eagles recover quickly and get back on the horse after their Cup heartbreak?
Adamstown Rosebud v Charlestown City Blues
2.30pm Saturday 29th July at Adamstown Oval
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2017: Charlestown 2 Adamstown 2 at Adamstown Oval.
Ladder: Adamstown 10th (13), Charlestown 8th (16)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Adamstown – Lost Jaffas 1-6 (a), Lost Magic 0-3 (a), Lost Roosters 1-3 (a)
Charlestown – Lost Eagles 1-3 (h), Drew Jaffas 2-2 (a), Lost Olympic 1-2 (h)
Old Boy’s Day couldn’t have come at a better time for Adamstown after they hit rock-bottom last weekend in a 6-1 hiding they received from a Lambton Jaffas side with a point to prove.
The Old Boys could provide just the inspiration Adamstown need, who after winning two straight against Weston and Valentine, have now lost three on the bounce and are in danger of an ignominious end to an already forgettable campaign.
After leaking goals in the first half of matches against Valentine and Lake Macquarie, the Rosebuds have been better in the first 45 against both Broadmeadow and Lambton.
In both fixtures, Adamstown have held firm for more than 35 minutes, but goals just before the break in both have crippled their chances.
Maybe a return to Adamstown Oval, for the first time since their dramatic comeback against Valentine, could potentially spark the home side.
While Charlestown have had little to show for it on the ladder in their last five matches, the side mixed with youth and experience which Shane Pryce has put on the park recently has stood up to the plate.
They have faced the top three sides in their past three matches and in all three the Blues took an early lead, only to be pegged back.
It has been in the second half of matches recently where Charlestown have struggled to keep pace with the top sides, conceding all seven goals in their last three matches in the final 45 minutes.
Old Boys’ Day is sure to lift Adamstown, but based on recent form the Blues are favourites heading into Saturday’s clash. They will be out to demonstrate that their solid showings against the top three were no fluke, with a win over the struggling Rosebuds.
What the Coaches Said:
Nick Webb (Adamstown)
“We need any type of motivation we can get. They are just scraping through to the end. Let’s hope the Old Boys’ Day gives them something to play for. That’s the challenge every week to just try and get them up so they don’t drop their heads like they did against Lambton last week. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do to be honest. I knew that going into it, I probably didn’t realise how hard it was going to be, but it’s been a great opportunity.”
“I actually think they have shown enormous courage in the last month. I think Prycy [Shane Pryce] will be really proud of what he has achieved to be quite honest especially in the last month with all the turmoil going on before it, and people backstabbing and all that. It’s not a nice environment to coach in for him, no doubt and he has done really well and can hold his head up high. That’s what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to match them for that first 50 minutes.”
Shane Pryce (Charlestown)
“It’s [conceding second half goals] been mainly because we’ve had to make changes. People have either got injured or had to come off, experienced players and that has probably hurt us a bit I suppose. I don’t think it’s a fitness thing or even probably to a point a mental thing. Circumstances in games have changed and we’ve had to change people around in different positions or bring on some young guys who are new to the first-grade experiences and the smarter and clever players finish over the top of us.”
“I can’t fault attitude and effort from the players at the club and also the opportunity that has been given to some younger players who haven’t let me down or their teammates down or the club. I’m really impressed that way.”
Key: Can Adamstown show some pride on Old Boys’ Day or will the Blues spoil the party?
Maitland Magpies v Broadmeadow Magic
2.30pm Sunday 30th July at Cooks Square Park
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2017: Broadmeadow 0 Maitland 7 at Magic Park.
Ladder: Maitland 6th (28), Broadmeadow 5th (30)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Maitland – Won Roosters 4-0 (a), Drew Phoenix 2-2 (a), Won Bears 3-2 (a)
Broadmeadow – Won Rosebud 3-0 (h), Won Jaffas 3-1 (h), Won Blues 2-0 (h)
This clash at Cooks Square Park on Sunday may not have ‘Match of the Round’ billing, but it is of equal importance to Hamilton’s clash with Valentine at the same time.
The equation is simple. Win and finals are still a chance, anything else and it becomes an uphill battle to a top four place.
Everyone expects this one to be tight, just as many felt the round nine encounter between the two sides would be. But, what happened that afternoon at Magic Park is still something many are trying to comprehend – a 7-0 thumping of Broadmeadow on their home turf.
Since that stunning defeat, Magic have lost just two of their nine PS4 NPL matches since and are on a six-game unbeaten run.
Eighth after the Maitland defeat, Magic have risen to fifth and sit just two points outside the top four. With victory on Sunday, and a Valentine defeat, or draw at Hamilton, and Broadmeadow will be in the four.
One side that will be doing their utmost to stop that occurring is Maitland who seemed to struggle after that huge win against Magic. They lost two straight, and didn’t win in three matches as they dropped from second to fifth and now sit in sixth.
However, a thumping 6-1 victory against the Jets Youth in round 14 turned Maitland’s season around and they have now gone unbeaten in five of their last six, winning three.
Matt Thompson returns from suspension for the Magpies which is a huge inclusion to the side who cruised to a 4-0 victory last weekend against Lake Macquarie.
With Ryan Clarke, Matt Comerford and Josh Dutton-Black all looking good of late, Magic will have their work cut-out.
Mitch Oxborrow may play for Magic in his final match before moving to A-League club Brisbane Roar and his influence will be key.
It’s a match which can’t be split. Two sides with quality all over the park.
What the Coaches Said:
Phil Dando (Maitland)
“I’d rather not be in this position, but we’ve got to do it. We want to be playing finals football so we might as well start now in a way. There is a job to be done, so let’s go and do it. They [Magic] are in a mean streak of form, six on the trot in the league and a good run in the FFA Cup. Since we beat them in the first round that could have been forgiven for falling in a heap, but they’ve really got themselves together and regrouped and done really, really well.”
“All credit to Ruben and his boys for getting where they are, because at that stage [after the 7-0 defeat] you thought their season may just be written off. We know they are dangerous, we know that in the earlier game just about everything went right for us and everything went wrong for them. We know it won’t be the same way again, it’ll be a real tussle, so we’ve got to be ready for it.”
Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow)
“[Maitland are a] quality team. Hot and cold, but when they are hot they are real hot. We witnessed that first hand in the first round. We were obviously really poor that game and did some silly things, and not much went our way. But, I think they are a good quality team. They have got a few boys that can definitely hurt you. The likes of Thommo [Matt Thompson] and Clarkey [Ryan Clarke] and Commo [Matt Comerford]. They are just high quality players. They are a good side.”
“At the moment Mitchy [Oxborrow] will be probably back this weekend, but I’m not 100% sure if we’ll play him because we’ve got to look towards the future. I’ve got to talk to Brisbane [Roar] about where he is at and what they want from him. He’s not going to be a guaranteed starter and if he is playing then it definitely will be his last game. He definitely won’t play in the FFA Cup match [against Moreton Bay] because we want him to be available for Brisbane [in the FFA Cup] and that’s just an example of the club putting player’s futures and careers ahead of our own ambitions, because we know it’s important for Mitch to start well at Brisbane.”
Key: Can Magic’s defence, which has conceded just once in their last four matches stand tall against Maitland lethal attacking arsenal?
Newcastle Jets Youth v Lake Macquarie Roosters
8pm Tuesday 18th July at Macquarie Field
Newcastle Jets Youth 5 (Hayes 12’, Joice 17’, Jennings 37’, Moric 69’, Kelly (og) 90+1’) defeated Lake Macquarie Roosters 0 at Macquarie Field.
*Match played earlier due to Jets’ Weifang Cup commitments.